Monday, 4 June 2007

OBAMA VS. CLINTON: THE MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES? (Take 4)

"THE ALL-ROUNDER"


I’ve been watching the just ended two-hour TV debate between the eight democratic candidates to the US Presidency: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson. It was the ideal occasion to gauge the “Obama vs. Clinton battle” in a wider context.

The first and, of course, highest point of the debate was Iraq and the recently approved new war funding bill, with Edwards accusing Hillary and Obama of acting as followers, not leaders, in the lead-up to the vote on it by the Senate, being the last to express their votes although eventually voting against. Obama made it a point to remind everyone that he had been against the war from the very beginning, unlike Edwards and all the other candidates, including Hillary, who had voted not only for the war but for all its funding bills until now. With this he got Edwards’ retraction and clearly won this segment of the debate.

The discussion went on to a range of topics, including immigration, health care, fiscal policy, gays in the military, legalisation of gay marriages, energy policy, Iran, Darfur and the role of Bill Clinton in a possible democratic presidency. On all these issues, I got a sense that Hillary, who is still heading all the polls, got the upper-hand over all the other candidates, except perhaps on Darfur where Bill Richardson put his experience as former US ambassador to the UN well to his service. His main proposal was to, among other measures, threaten to boycott the Beijing Summer Olympics to bring China to exert its power against the government of Sudan. All candidates seemed, however, to agree on one point: the US has lost its moral authority to act effectively on Darfur.

But, overall, I think Hillary managed to “win” even over Richardson on foreign policy, by putting a well articulated emphasis on diplomacy and reminding, particularly in relation to Iran, that the present Administration policy is “not to talk to anyone they don’t agree with, yet during the cold war we were talking with the Soviet Union throughout and they had missiles pointed at us”. Well, in spite of taking Hillary's point, I would’ve thought that that’s exactly what Iran is trying to achieve with its nuclear policy… Towards the very end of the debate, Kucinich made a very interesting pledge that might have been lost for not having been discussed: as president, he would cancel NAFTA and the WTO and get the world back to bilateral trade!

Other particularly interesting points to me were, in the context of immigration policy, Hillary’s support for English as a national, but not official, language in the US (I was specially interested in the fact that the US is having this debate when a very similar one is taking place in Angola on the role of the Portuguese language vis-a-vis the country's national African languages) and the way she “sealed” her advantage over the other candidates by stating: “when I become president, Bill Clinton, my dear husband, will be working all over the world as a roving ambassador for social causes.”

All in all, I don’t think Obama did badly, he just didn’t do as well as Hillary…

(See "Take 3" here)
"THE ALL-ROUNDER"


I’ve been watching the just ended two-hour TV debate between the eight democratic candidates to the US Presidency: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson. It was the ideal occasion to gauge the “Obama vs. Clinton battle” in a wider context.

The first and, of course, highest point of the debate was Iraq and the recently approved new war funding bill, with Edwards accusing Hillary and Obama of acting as followers, not leaders, in the lead-up to the vote on it by the Senate, being the last to express their votes although eventually voting against. Obama made it a point to remind everyone that he had been against the war from the very beginning, unlike Edwards and all the other candidates, including Hillary, who had voted not only for the war but for all its funding bills until now. With this he got Edwards’ retraction and clearly won this segment of the debate.

The discussion went on to a range of topics, including immigration, health care, fiscal policy, gays in the military, legalisation of gay marriages, energy policy, Iran, Darfur and the role of Bill Clinton in a possible democratic presidency. On all these issues, I got a sense that Hillary, who is still heading all the polls, got the upper-hand over all the other candidates, except perhaps on Darfur where Bill Richardson put his experience as former US ambassador to the UN well to his service. His main proposal was to, among other measures, threaten to boycott the Beijing Summer Olympics to bring China to exert its power against the government of Sudan. All candidates seemed, however, to agree on one point: the US has lost its moral authority to act effectively on Darfur.

But, overall, I think Hillary managed to “win” even over Richardson on foreign policy, by putting a well articulated emphasis on diplomacy and reminding, particularly in relation to Iran, that the present Administration policy is “not to talk to anyone they don’t agree with, yet during the cold war we were talking with the Soviet Union throughout and they had missiles pointed at us”. Well, in spite of taking Hillary's point, I would’ve thought that that’s exactly what Iran is trying to achieve with its nuclear policy… Towards the very end of the debate, Kucinich made a very interesting pledge that might have been lost for not having been discussed: as president, he would cancel NAFTA and the WTO and get the world back to bilateral trade!

Other particularly interesting points to me were, in the context of immigration policy, Hillary’s support for English as a national, but not official, language in the US (I was specially interested in the fact that the US is having this debate when a very similar one is taking place in Angola on the role of the Portuguese language vis-a-vis the country's national African languages) and the way she “sealed” her advantage over the other candidates by stating: “when I become president, Bill Clinton, my dear husband, will be working all over the world as a roving ambassador for social causes.”

All in all, I don’t think Obama did badly, he just didn’t do as well as Hillary…

(See "Take 3" here)

2 comments:

Cleo said...

It was great, to see and hear for the first time an open and honest debate among presidential candidates with a format that allowed them sufficient time to express their views. I felt like I finally, got the priviledge to be given enough direct information to enable me to judge the candidates by myself instead of having to listen to about 98% of the views of journalists and political commentators and only 2% of what actually the candidate said and the 2% many times taken out of context. Good job for CNN.

Ranking the candidates performance, yes Hillary was the best! In terms of the health care issues in america she seemed to be the most capable person. Foreign policy and acknowledgement of the worngs of America, and ability to put out tools to help resolve the mess created by the Iraq war, giving that they all agreed that Mr. Clinton could be used as an instrumental tool for foreign policy puts her again at the top in my view. The economy in general as she refreshed people's memory when her husband left the office there was surplus, with political will the economic mismanagement by the Bush administration could overall be fixed too. Basically, the way she addressed the issues made me feel like there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

Obama was o.k. takes the second position. Joe Biden was a good surprise too. Except for his proposal regarding Universal free College tuition John Edwards was a real disappointment. Not as much because of his proposals, overall all candidate plans were not very different. But because, of his attitude... I do not know how to express but, he just left me with a negative feeling about his personality.

Koluki said...

Well Cleo, I guess this is my turn to concede on your reasons to have high hopes on Hillary's candidacy...